There were rumblings in the fanbase that the 2021 Colorado Rockies pitching rotation could be among the greatest in franchise history. Saturday’s doubleheader against the New York Mets, however, was an example of just how good the starting pitching could be, but also how bad the bullpen could be as well.
Saturday’s starting pitchers, Chi Chi Gonzalez and German Marquez, combined for three earned runs through 12 solid innings pitched, yet the Rockies only won one of these games. Marquez threw a complete game (seven innings in the second game of the double header), so rightfully got the win there. Gonzalez, however, only made it through five innings, leaving the game with the Rockies up 3-1. The bullpen came in and lost the lead, something that seems to have happened several times already this year.
In fact, the Rockies’ bullpen now sits at 1-5 on the season with an ERA above 6.10, ranking 29th in the league by ERA. It should be noted that the single win that the bullpen had was when now-starting pitcher Gonzalez worked two innings in relief against the Dodgers on Opening Day.
Compare this to the starting pitching, which has a sub-3.90 ERA and is currently ranked 13th in the league in that category. That number decreases even more when you consider it includes the poor start Antonio Senzatela had (seven earned runs in 3.1 innings in a loss to the Dodgers) on April 2.
The record is still not great at 3-6, but that is not entirely the pitching’s fault. Despite good pitching on the recent road trip, the Rockies’ offense posted little run support, offering only 1.83 runs per game on average to the entire pitching staff. During the recent six-game road trip through California, not a single starter allowed more than four earned runs. Despite that, the starters were attributed with four of the team’s six losses on the trip.
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Unfortunately, Rockies starters have only made it through six innings in five games this year, with only two on the most recent road trip. This is, unfortunately, a side effect of pitch count. While they have so far been able to work out of these situations, Rockies starters have walked the most batters among the league’s rotations. Walking batters tend to take more pitches than a traditional out, raising the pitch count per inning. This is hurting the pitching staff right now.
Colorado’s rotation is not making it far enough into games before the count dictates that they exit. This sends the statistically weak bullpen onto the field early, giving the collective unit more time to lose leads/ties while the opposing starter has not come close to leaving the mound. Simply put, for the team to be successful, Colorado’s rotation needs to make it further into games, as Marquez did in the second game on Saturday.
It would also really help if Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon could find more success hitting the ball, especially as Blackmon has struggled to a .182/.280/.341 slash line so far.
Note: Data for this article was found on MLB.com